Washington Gas Energy Systems is building a 1 MW solar array at the University of Arizona’s Science & Technology Park in Tucson. The UA Tech Park is testing various solar projects under identical operating conditions to evaluate the most beneficial technology for solar energy production in the Southwest.
Washington Gas Energy Systems signed a contract with Tucson Electric Power (TEP) to build, own and operate the Cogenra Solar array that will provide renewable energy to the utility in Tucson. The installation, awarded through a TEP RFP process, will consist of ground-mounted Cogenra T14 systems. which combine silicon PV cells and a single-axis horizontal tracker with low-concentration optics. Flat-glass mirrors concentrate the sunlight about 14 times, reducing the number of PV cells required to generate electricity. The installation is expected to produce 1,986 MWh per year.
The facility will be owned and operated by Washington Gas Energy Systems under a 20-year power purchase agreement with TEP. Cogenra Solar developed and designed the project and will manage procurement and construction. The project is expected to be completed in April 2014.
The output will help TEP to meet or exceed the mandates of Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard, which requires electric utilities to increase their use of renewable energy each year until it accounts for 15 percent of their power in 2025.
In December 2012, Duke Energy Renewables acquired a commercial solar power project located within the UA Tech Park. Duke purchased the 6 MW Gato Montes Solar Power Project from AstroSol. The project consists of 48,000 PV panels on a 38.5-acre parcel of land. TEP is buying all of the electricity from the project under a 20-year agreement.
The UA Tech Park’s Solar Zone is one of the largest solar testing, evaluation and demonstration sites in the world. Phase-1 of the Solar Zone occupies 165 acres of land. With the completion of the Washington Gas Energy Systems project, the Solar Zone will generate 23 MW.